Cape Town - It hasn't taken long for 24-year-old Zubayr Hamza to learn that Test cricket is as much a mental challenge as anything else.
That is the key lesson the Cape Cobras batsman took out of the recently completed series against England, which South Africa lost 3-1.
Hamza started that series as the Proteas' No 3 and was backed there for the first three Tests, but a poor run of scores saw him dropped for the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers.
Scores of 39, 4, 5, 18, 10 and 2 were Hamza's returns throughout the England series, leaving him with an average of just 18.10 after his first five Tests.
The talent is not in question, as he showed in that knock of 39 at Centurion with some sumptuous off-side play, and Hamza will almost certainly get another crack at the Test side in the future.
The challenge is instead the mental component of the game.
"The difference was the pressure, the scrutiny and, at times, the pressure of performance," he told media on Friday ahead of the Cape Cobras' One Day Cup opener against the Warriors in Oudtshoorn.
"Yes, the level is higher, but I think mentally that is the space to grow in terms of the two levels.
"It was a good experience. It was tough and didn't go the way I had planned, but you live, and you learn.
"I'm feeling alright. I'm still positive and confident that I can do a job."
It perhaps didn't help Hamza that, as the series developed, the wheels began to come off for the Proteas as a whole.
Having started the series with a win at Centurion, the Proteas were then comfortably outplayed for the rest of the series.
"The difference mentally between the two standards (Test and franchise cricket) is not when you're doing well, but when the tough times come around," Hamza said.
"How quick can you bounce back? Do you have a certain belief in yourself?
"It's about finding ways to deal with that pressure.
"Unfortunately, it didn't go my way, but it goes like that. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Playing in the New Year's Test at Newlands is something I never thought would happen. It's something that I can only grow from."
In terms of the decision that was taken to drop him for the fourth Test, Hamza has no complaints.
"I look at the facts. I got six innings and I didn't score in any of them," he said.
"If you don't perform and take your opportunities, then I don't think you really have a leg to stand on in that regard."